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Ellen Pao on her new book about the gender discrimination lawsuit she filed [and lost] in 2012.

Here's the original thread about James Damore's diversity memo for reference.

Myself and a few other female members wondered why not very many people asked for the opinions of female coders at Google. Ellen Pao sued Kleiner Perkins, so she doesn't exactly fit the bill either, but I think hearing from a woman working in SV would be an appropriate start.

So, what do you think?
 

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I'm not in the tech field at present, but subscribed. I'd love to hear thoughts, myself.

Personally, I think the issues against women are very real, and should not be dismissed, but it looks like a lot of the issues are also bigger than the gendered issues. From what I read, a lot of Silicon Valley businesses are either big echo chambers or loosely structured businesses that don't even really have hr depts to complain to. I definitely don't disagree with her idea for a need for a "reset".
 

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Haven't got anything specific to silicon valley but there are some posts that I think are useful to share considering you're wanting perspectives from women in the field. This doesn't talk about her personal experiences but I think is interesting in considering the sex discrimination as an issue. I believe Swede was able to help change the culture in the engineering company she worked at in collaboration with management/bosses.
http://personalitycafe.com/educatio...tem-field-ask-me-anything-5.html#post14116314
Yes, to keep the answer very short, it goes back to what can be referred to as company culture.

Culture change is incredibly difficult (this is applicable to any majority or less powerful segment of society):

a) The first step is to get the general population to accept that there actually is an issue.
This is hard in that the majority or the people with power does not generally (want to) see that there are issues. It is human behavior; we tend to notice first and foremost what affects us directly. In other words, people can be informed, but that doesn't mean that they agree, see why it's important, care enough to change, etc.
For example, a whistle-blower is generally met with a lot of skepticism; as we discussed earlier, the emotional/victim card is often played (which frankly is nothing less than a form of bullying), which is why it is important to not only talk about personal experience*, but also to show that the study, stats, and data actually exists. And no matter how carefully carried out these studies are, there will always be people who simply does not want to see - you will never get 100% of people to admit there is an issue. It is generally very risky to be the whistle blower, so many individuals prioritize safety before change.
This is why it is also important to have access to a so called Change Agent, who is generally a person who is a part of the majority, well respected and well liked, who can advocate in favor for the group that is discriminated against. The change agent is seen as a 'neutral party', someone who can be trusted, since s/he is not directly involved. Change without a change agent is almost impossible.

b) The second step is the actual change.
This is also a challenge in that people generally fear change - change is scary. This is also a very common human reaction, but is often justified with "why change something that has always worked?" or "what is in it for me?" for example.
In addition, a culture change generally takes several generations to really become an integrated part of society. Part of this is what you talk about in your post above; the lack of role models in combination with conservatism.

c) Counter-reaction
Once a culture change has been achieved, it is not uncommon that there is a counter reaction. This type of effect can be seen throughout history and it pretty fascinating. One pretty illustrative example is the counter-reaction to feminism, for example. It was predictable and natural, but it doesn't necessarily make it right.



*More often than not, it is actually advisable to stay away from sharing personal experiences all together when discussing these types of issues in a professional setting.
It gives the counter-party, for lack of a better word, an out in that they can shrug off the shared material as subjective and it can also put them on the defensive in that they take the information as a personal attack and it can lead to retribution.
It also gives the counter-party a power edge in that the whistle-blower is sharing something personal that has had a negative impact on their well-being, which can be turned against them.
This paper might help in getting more details about what is meant when she refers to 'change agent': Engaging Men in Gender Initiatives
And as an extra, I really love this great post from another INTJ who breaks down hiring practices in regards to discriminatory practices: http://personalitycafe.com/debate-f...-genders-certain-them-being.html#post14227954
Pretty much just one: that isn't how equity works at all. Even a little bit. Which isn't to say that it's your fault -- I would say that most people don't understand how it works either, and so there is a lot of misinformation that circulates about it. The goal of the equity selection process is that there should a notable similarity between the composition of a workforce (or admissions to a program, etc.) and the composition of the labour pool (or applicant pool, etc.), which is more like the proportion of _________ people that exist in the potential labour pool (basically, in the population you are recruiting from, eg. people with nursing degrees who are able to work in Toronto) rather than the number of _________ resumes floating around -- I'll explain why later.
In terms of equity for women, there should be roughly the same number of women being hired or admitted as men because there are roughly the same number of women and men. I say roughly because of course there is going to be some variation in actual hiring activities and you're not likely to find any hiring policies that require hiring exactly the same number of women and men each year. One year might have particularly strong female applicants, then next two male, etc., but statistically the numbers will work out to be similar over a period of so many hires. Transgender people do not exist in the same number as do cisgender people, so equity does not require an employer to hire the same amount of transgender people; however, here again, we would expect to see a similar amount of transgender people in the workforce as exist in the labour force as a whole. People get incredibly worked up over this, but I've yet to see a convincing argument against it.

Now there are three main main reasons why the composition of a workforce might be out of whack.

1. There may outright discrimination at play in hiring practices.

Examples of outright discrimination:

-A hospital hiring panel that holds antiquated beliefs about what kind of work women and men are suited for may discriminate against male nurses* because they think that nursing is something that women just do better because of their innate disposition towards caring for other people.

-"It will cost too much to hire male nurses because our nursing floor (I know nurses work everywhere, bear with me) was designed around an all-female workforce, so there are currently no bathrooms for a male nurse to use (there are labour regulations about how many per gender per floor) and it would be expensive to install more bathrooms."

-"It would be detrimental to the productivity to our current nursing labour force to hire a male nurse because the 'necessary sexual dynamics' would be distracting to the female nurses."

If any of these reasons is why the distribution of a workforce is out of whack, you need to fire all of your hiring managers because it is illegal (and they would almost certainly know that it was illegal) to discriminate against job candidates on the basis of what in Canada is referred to as a prohibited ground of discrimination, as per the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I have no idea how things work in the rest of the world.

There is a small caveat with the bathroom scenario, since Canadian employers are required to accommodate to the point of undue hardship before they can establish a BFOQ (bona fide occupational qualification, aka needing to hire only female nurses since no bathrooms exist for male nurses); however, it is difficult to establish undue hardship and the expense involved with bathroom renovation would not qualify since the employer would almost certainly qualify for grants as well as financial loans that would provide it with the means to modify the bathroom situation in a way that allowed it to hire male nurses. With regard to the bathroom scenario, I would reckon that American employers actually have a lot further to go to prove undue hardship because of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

*The irony of using male nurses as an example is that men in pink-collar occupations are typically hired at very high rates and also tend to go on to receive greater compensation and advance more quickly than do female nurses -- this is rarely the case for women in male-dominated occupations, and rarely the case for women, visible minorities, or people with disabilities in 'regular' occupations.

2. The hiring practices themselves may be sound, but there simply aren't enough __________ applicants to achieve equity in the workforce.

This is a point you brought up in your OP, and it's true that it becomes difficult to achieve equity between women and men if there simply aren't that many men who study nursing and thus obtain the nursing degrees that are a prerequisite for being hired as a nurse.

Let's grant that a certain number of men simply aren't interested in nursing due to socialisation and talk about racial minorities instead, where Canadian born women and men are subject to roughly the same kinds of socialisation factors. As of the 2011 census, 77% of Canadians were white, and visible minorities including Aboriginal peoples made up the other 23%.

I work for Employer X, and I am a manager who regularly assists the HR department with hiring (I'm not actually, I'm a student studying HR). We have currently come under public scrutiny for having a very male, very white workforce and are being pressured by senior management to hire more women and visible minorities.

My colleagues in the HR department and myself do not actively discriminate against women or visible minorities in our hiring practices; in fact, we love to hire them and do when possible, but the fact of the matter is that the majority of our candidates are white men. Let's say 85 or more%, with visible minority candidates composing only 5% of all applicants. To achieve equity, it may seem like we have to start selecting against our white male applicants and start hiring every technically qualified visible minority candidate for years before we can come close to achieving equity. But meritocracy, you say. I don't actually have a problem with hiring the best person for the job, but there are other factors at play that I will explain below.

3. The reasons that women and visible minorities avoid certain fields often has little to do with a genuine lack of interest and often a great deal to do with workplace culture.

To jump over to academia and back to gender equity, let's talk about my experience as a undergrad in the most sharply segregated discipline at my school: philosophy. Engineering is another notorious one, but there have been many successful STEM campaigns encouraging women and girls to go into such fields. There have been few, if any, such campaigns in philosophy.

The philosophy department at my school has been under administrative pressures for many years regarding the lack of female students in philosophy. There are some years when not a single female student graduates with major or honours in philosophy. Most of the administration (which is overwhelmingly male) in baffled as to why this is the case, since roughly equal numbers of women and men enroll in introductory philosophy classes, but only men seem to continue on.

There are many reasons why this is the case.

-A great deal of the philosophical canon is sexist and hostile to women. Believe me, it's very offputting when what you read discusses your inherent inferiority and the instructor doesn't feel it necessary to comment on it.

-The discipline itself is also hypermasculine in that any areas associated with women (philosophy of emotions, philosophy of the body, philosophy of animals, care ethics, feminist philosophy) are treated like silly fluff because, you know, the only real important philosophical work that is done is on abstract analytic philosophy with zero practical application.

-There is a lot of active sexism and hostility coming from many philosophy instructors and other students. Blatant sexual harassment is not uncommon, nor is casual sexism or hostile learning environments. It is very unusual to read work by women philosophers outside of feminist philosophy, even in classes discussing contemporary philosophers. Unless you are a Beauvoir scholar, she is almost never counted as an existentialist philosopher, even though her ideas are more sophisticated than other existentialist philosophers. My existentialism instructor did not even mention that she was a philosopher -- the only time he talked about her was to go on about how she was Sartre's girlfriend. I've also had instructors go off on irrelevant tangents about their former sexual conquests and draw pictures of vaginas on the white board, as though the class was a men's locker room.

-Because of the above, it can be very difficult to find a mentor, which can make it very difficult to obtain good letters of recommendation to use to pursue graduate studies. It also makes it very difficult to want to have anything to do with philosophy in an academic setting.

All of the same factors are present in employment as well:

-The work culture may be hypermasculine and hostile to women. This can be in terms of locker room talk among peers and superiors, but it can also be in terms of workplace expectations. For example, many workplaces have informal yet still expected out of workplace activities that are inaccessible to women because whereas men have wives to perform domestic labour and care for children, women do not usually have someone else to pick up the slack so that they can go bond after work. This bonding often begets informal mentoring relationships which can be an important part of determining who is given the opportunities to go on to (become qualified for) managerial positions.

-With regard to mentoring, there are people who cannot/will not/are not interested in connecting with women or visible minorities and thus don't feel comfortable entering into mentoring relationships with them.

-It is not uncommon for women to be given less prestigious assignments, which may mean that they are not suitably qualified for other jobs down the road.

-Lack of women and visible minorities in leadership positions may make women or visible minorities feel like (and sometimes rightfully signal that) there are internal dynamics that would deny them opportunities for advancement.

-A homogenous workforce subtly communicates to certain groups of people that they are not suited for certain kinds or work or not wanted in certain work environments.

Practices that can assist in achieving equity include:

-Having a diverse hiring committee. Unconscious bias is a huge problem in hiring decisions and the more diverse your hiring committee is, the more likely it is that biases will get cancelled out. It's very, very common to hire people who look like you because you unconsciously think they will be like-minded.

-Ensure that your recruitment advertising is unbiased. Only the essential qualifications for a job should be stated, not any personal characteristics (eg. 'can lift 50lbs' rather than 'is physically fit'). The aim is not to discourage any applicants from applying.

-Ensure that you are recruiting from a number of areas. Word-of-mouth advertising tends to replicate the existing composition of a workforce, whether that is white, male, or female. An example would to advertise with a professional society for women or minorities or to recruit from a program renowned for its female or minority graduates.

-Take a close look at your job requirements and consider job redesign. It is no longer as common as it once was for a family to have only one income and in general men are helping out with domestic labour and parenting more than they ever have, so a family-friendly redesign is beneficial to more than just working mothers. Every employee has commitments outside of work and it is important to accommodate them, rather than assuming they have someone to run their life while they earn money.

 
just for a giggle
 

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My work is between IT and business, sometimes more the former, sometimes more the latter. I encounter sexism constantly in both the fields.

Here I need to mention that I'm from Europe, currently living in Western Europe in a country famous for its progressiveness. However, my current job has involved plenty of international travel, so I can talk about many European countries. And I've been working as a consultant so I have seen plenty of companies when working with clients (=> I can compare).

Let me just list a few examples of sexism I encountered:

- Glass ceiling. The % of women in managerial positions is super low and if they are there, they are normally super good in what they are doing. Plus there are plenty of women that aren't promoted although they should be. Among junior stuff, it's normally about 50% men - 50% women. The more senior the post, the fewer women. I encountered plenty of horribly incompetent men holding managerial posts, but can honestly say, I'm yet to encounter an incompetent women holding a high post in IT.

On my hitherto projects it happened several times that the project was lagging because of some male department lead, who then took a long sick leave or vacation, which basically saved the project, because then his obligations were taken over by a diligent woman who just did what the guy had been expected to do in the first place.

Obviously the woman was much more junior and was paid much less that the guy. I find it shocking how frequently this happens.

- Networking. Or the impossibility thereof. My male colleagues have lunch with our bosses. The bosses are male and they always ignored my proposals to take a lunch. The truth is, the possibilities for you to network as a woman are really limited. It's like in this strip: Alice Should Network With Men - Dilbert Comic Strip on 2015-09-22 | Dilbert by Scott Adams .

- Impertinence, punishing women for being ambitious, etc. When I first raised the topic of promotion - a year after starting at the company and after receiving excellent reviews from projects - I was said I was pushy and should focus on my private life, because life is not only work. All the management always reacted super negatively to my proposals I could take on more tasks and any other signals that I'm ambitious. I had projects, on which I was done with my tasks after just 2-3 h every day. I used to spend the rest of the time doing nothing, as the management didn't react to me asking them for more work.

- Infantilizing and not treating women seriously. I especially remember this one steering committee: about 8 participants, i.e. 7 men and I. At the beginning of the meeting the project manager introduces everybody. He says (names are made up of course): Martin Müller, Thomas White, Daniel Garcia, ... and Kate. He introduced everybody by their full names, but me only by my first name. This was so incredibly strange.

I've had some men both within my company and on the client's side that simply didn't talk to me. On this one project I needed to talk to one specialist with a male colleague of mine. Important is that I was responsible for the project. The male colleague just supported me. It was me who asked the questions and who the client (the specialist) was expected to talk to. Still, the guy replied only to my colleague. He didn't watch me for one second! It was so shocking, my male colleague actually noticed it and, as he was a really cool guy, he started to look at me. Basically 3 of us were sitting there: I was talking to the client (the specialist), the client was answering to my colleague and my colleague was looking at me not saying a word and giving me the opportunity to answer and ask questions.

But this is just an example. Situations like this have happened really a lot. I remember this one presentation I (and only I!) held, after which my male colleague that was sitting next to me was asked questions on my presentation. I'm not kidding you. Also this time, the colleague actually noticed that.

There are some cultures that are worse with that. The colleagues having this cultural background are very difficult for me as a woman to work with because they consistently ignore me.

Another example that springs to my mind: I was working with a client and at some point noticed that we were doing it wrong. If we had continued like this, it would have provoked us plenty of additional work later. I explained that to the client and he told I was right. Then, the other guy working with us, who knew the first one for years, said something like: "I would be very angry if a much younger woman corrected me constantly. I couldn't ever accept that". The first guy actually seemed quite embarrassed, replied something like "She's not always right".

- Hostility. I also witnessed some really extreme hostility towards some women on some projects. In one company the IT team consisted of about 10 people, only one of them was female. She was extremely bullied by the guys behind her back, who called her names (she was obese, was constantly called "elephant"). And I'm talking here about a bunch of really unattractive guys (not that if they were attractive this would change anything).

- Sexual comments. During one project one guy even joked I was the team's sex slave. I kid you not.
 

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I don't have time for something really well-researched right now*, I may come back and post more later, but:

When it comes to presence/representation the %s speak for themselves... personally, until just a few months ago I was the only woman on my project team.

On the ground, sexism can be an issue at work and has been for me on a number of occasions, and because I've had it happen so often I find people who want to immediately chalk representational differences up to "preference" etc. before environmental and cultural female-participation-dissuaders are corrected for somewhat fanciful in their hand-waving.

A few examples:

On my first day at my first IT job a manager actually tried to persuade me to become a teacher instead of a dev for some mysterious reason.

I just recently have had to consider complaining to HR about a fellow employee who has been sexually harassing me off and on for something like six months now, despite my having given a very clear "not interested" to him early on. I don't want to go to HR because it's a load of trouble that I don't have time for, but last week he texted me asking where I was, because my car wasn't in its usual parking spot and he'd come out to "say hello" (?!?!?!?!?!) and since I've been telling him "no" and ignoring him for quite a while now my creep-o-meter is just about maxed out.

I have had superiors who refuse to stay in their lanes and concern troll me about travelling alone (as a woman) to the point that whenever I have a vacation coming up working with them becomes incredibly difficult as they have feels about me being in developing countries and at times quite openly take them out on me.

I also find it interesting that even though, as a kid, I heroized what few female tech chicks you saw in media in the 90s (Coco Bandicoot and that bratty Vegetarian girl from Jurassic Park), it didn't really occur to me to go into tech until after college. By contrast many of my male peers were being loudly encouraged to do so by teachers and parents because of the industry's growth potential. I do think that it's an interest (and talent, judging by how well I've done despite not having a CS degree) I would have started exploring sooner had people been pushing more opportunities for it my way, and I suspect they'd have been pushing more and earlier opportunities for it my way if I had been male.

And because of my own roundabout trajectory (clear early interest that was neglected through adolescence and college) my first instinct in redressing things is to make sure girls are being encouraged to explore areas like math and computer science at precisely the ages when we start seeing interest and ability gaps widen. This should have benefits for the industry in that it will help to identify and develop talent from the largest possible initial pool, and cases like mine - ability that could have been tapped but was unidentified and left underdeveloped for a stretch - won't occur as often.

The actual demographic change should in turn help some with changing some of the toxic cultural elements. Not that sexism should be acceptable in the workplace even if female tech workers remain a minority, clearly it should not, but the more women there are present the more likely it probably is that bad eggs will be held accountable for their prejudicial attitudes.

* Yes, I have to flag my own thoughts as being perhaps overly anecdotal when I don't think I have time for scraping together all the citations in the world. It's a kind of intellectual guilt that does it.
 

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The only thing one can control or "reset" is themselves. Presumably, the hiring managers picked the 'best' for the team, so they should want the team to operate like a well oiled machine (i.e. "succeed"). If the team cannot be fully functional because of some irrational social problems, there's no reason to stay. Not interested in changing any culture.
 

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The only thing one can control or "reset" is themselves. Presumably, the hiring managers picked the 'best' for the team, so they should want the team to operate like a well oiled machine (i.e. "succeed"). If the team cannot be fully functional because of some irrational social problems, there's no reason to stay. Not interested in changing any culture.
While I agree with the sentiment and chose early to go solo to avoid the whole social shebang, I do appreciate those who do butt in and force shitty corporate cultures to change. If no one did, they'd just keep on deteriorating.
 

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While I agree with the sentiment and chose early to go solo to avoid the whole social shebang, I do appreciate those who do butt in and force shitty corporate cultures to change. If no one did, they'd just keep on deteriorating.
Don't believe 'real' change can ever be forced. Strict codes of conduct can be enforced. But then the less competitive, less profitable bad actors will just leave and create their preferred cultural bubble elsewhere. More insidious is that successful ones will stay in their prestigious post, where they may or may not sabotage in ways that don't clearly violate a code of conduct. Simply wouldn't put my career/reputation at risk by working where mine (the team's) success isn't actively supported and encouraged. Those who butt in and try to force change in already deteriorated corporate cultures are a bit naive.
 

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^^^ i don't think that's true. or more accurately, i think it's a matter of degree once again.

there's genuine value in people who 'force change' by saying 'you can't say that shit', for instance. or who break patterning by actually looking a female colleague in the eye and taking her seriously. or who know the canadian human rights code and are ready to make it real and concrete. i think the subtle stuff is worth doing pretty much every time.

i'm speaking as someone who has seen change over the course of 20 years in the i.t. industry. could be it's just local to my own environment, and it's also true that there are still plenty of recidivist pockets as well. and of course, very significantly - i'm 20 years older now than i was then, which means that people just inherently interact with me differently because age is a thing in its own right. the evolution in my personal experience probably is at least 50% actually an evolution in the ways people apply or don't apply sexism to me as i age.

but i believe in change. i really do not think that anything ever does change without somebody making a first move, because inertia is a really significant force.
 

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there's genuine value in people who 'force change' by saying 'you can't say that shit', for instance.
Would certainly do that as an individual, but that is simply defending myself. Like to treat my environments as if it goes without saying that they shouldn't 'say that shit'.

... or who break patterning by actually looking a female colleague in the eye and taking her seriously.
That sounds like a reasonable person to work with.

... but i believe in change. i really do not think that anything ever does change without somebody making a first move, because inertia is a really significant force.
The women who are taking a risk by speaking out about their experiences are to be admired. Consumers might decide not to purchase or use some product. And then tell all their friends why. In that way, it will be unsustainable for toxic cultures to survive. It's sort of like how smoking cigarettes became taboo and expensive (at least in the US).
 

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The women who are taking a risk by speaking out about their experiences are to be admired.
i think there's a lot more to it than admiration. i had a friend who said to me once, 'sure, but where's my free bag of groceries?' because while she was being 'admirable' for other people's delectation, she could not feed her kid. every time one person speaks out, a hundred others 'learn' something subliminally just by seeing the ways that that person's received. the environment and sometimes the culture as a whole telegraph where their values are and who will be punished for doing what. and that information gets into the social water table far more than most people are able to perceive - or prepared to admit - in a culture that fetishizes individualism the way this one does.

so i resent people who knee-jerk object to political-level 'imposition' of things like this, because i don't think you can isolate them from one another. individual speech is what moves the mountain, but more people speak when there's some kind of codified ground to stand on. i had a terrible fight with my sister 20 years ago, that i never forgot. she'd gone off back to south africa in '92, and i had stayed here and gotten 'political'.

so she comes back around idk, i think 95ish or so. and i'm full of wank and swank because of some victory i had just won, and i'm slightly appalled by how much less outspoken she seemed to be. i committed the sin of wanking at her and she lost it and told me what life is like in a country that won't back you up of you choose to rattle that bush.

after that i shut up. i don't think it's about marketplace power, personally. even taking that path is - to me - inherently taking an emotive victimish path. and it's a dependent path. you need to make enough of an appeal to push somebody's sentiment button for it to work. the mainstream simply does not put their money where their so-called mouths are, around questions of gender ethics. i would always prefer that we go with the laws. law means you don't have to care whether some oik in the street agrees or disagrees with you and puts his or her personal weight behind you. you have rights, not just some form of current appeal.
 

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i don't think it's about marketplace power, personally. even taking that path is - to me - inherently taking an emotive victimish path. and it's a dependent path. you need to make enough of an appeal to push somebody's sentiment button for it to work. the mainstream simply does not put their money where their so-called mouths are, around questions of gender ethics.
Profit driven organizations only pay attention when they start losing $$. (Of course in your ideal world, they would pay attention if slapped with a large fine) Being emotive, victimish, dependent, or making appeals is not necessary. It's easy to talk about why a purchasing decision was made (when relevant discussions pop up), be highly selective about where one works (as in evaluate the culture first to make sure just women aren't pulled off projects to go teach coding to school children for example), and openly stand up for one's self. I think a group of like minded individuals can create any culture they wish. And if they are effective, they can grow and compete with what's out there now.

i would always prefer that we go with the laws.
To each her own!
 
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